Shorter day today, but so beautiful. I woke up after not sleeping all that well. The hard floor of the church kept me waking up over and over. Paul had the same experience. I had some flavorless oatmeal for breakfast, and honestly was in a bad mood. This mostly stemmed from being indecisive. The night before I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go the next day: with Paul off route to Marion or stay on route and go to Damascus. I woke up and just made a snap decision to go to Marion, so I booked a hotel there. Then, 5 minutes later, I changed my mind and booked a hostel thinking it was in Damascus. It was actually way off route up over in Abingdon. The hotel wouldn’t give me a refund so I was just out that money. Hence, I was even more pissed than when I woke up. I got on the road and hardly said a word. Quickly, the beauty of the day started to thaw my cold heart.
We climbed up to something called Hayters Gap, a break in the mountains that I believe led us into the Great Valley, but I could be wrong. We started on the descent and it was probably the best of the trip. Long (4 miles I think), flowing, fast, and with excellent banked corners to allow you to maintain speed. The only thing that could have made it better was my road bike with disc brakes, but it was still stunning on the touring bike. At the bottom I waited for Paul, since this was the spot where we’d separated. While I’d rode I thought about where I wanted to go, and decided to go to Damascus, on the route. The main reason being that I wanted to ride a rail trail called the Virginia Creeper trail, and I wanted to meet some cool Appalachian Trail hikers. I said goodbye to Paul and turned right, while he turned left. The road continued to be beautiful as I descended down to a river, the North Fork of the Holston River.
I’m struck by the quantity of life on display in this region. Out west there’s a lot of life but it’s often hidden. Here, I watched cranes hunting in the river from only 30 feet away, saw deer racing me on the side of the road, and watched squirrels run along power lines. It’s really nice.
I climbed up out of the river valley I’d just descended. On the climb I heard a waterfall and stopped to investigate. I came across this wonderful little falls just off the road. More: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Fbpuu2qtXmBu5A1JA
After that I kept riding. It was slightly uphill and not the easiest, but it was a gorgeous morning and I was finally starting to feel like myself. I passed a small farm with cows relaxing by a stream.
Eventually I reached the town of Meadowview and stopped for breakfast at a cafe called Harvest Table. They do everything local. I got an omelet and the bacon in it was some of the best I’ve ever had. The hostess was super nice and told me about some of the other cyclists she’s had come through. I finished breakfast then asked about the Virginia Creeper trail as a detour. It would be an additional 6 miles or so, but it would allow me to get off the roads which sounded amazing. I got of route and headed to Abingdon, the start of the trail. It was a nice but very hilly town, with busy traffic. I turned onto the trail and was immediately so glad that I’d decided to do so. Not only was the scenery beautiful, but the trail was downhill for the first 10 miles or so. Further, the surface was crushed gravel and it was wonderful to ride on. I took a lot of pictures, and went slow and enjoyed myself.
I crossed the junction of the South and Middle forks of the Holston River, meaning I’d crossed all 3 in a few hours
I took my helmet off (which I shouldn’t have done) and rode with it off for the first time in 2 months. That was super nice, if not slightly dangerous. I stopped a picnic spot by the river and enjoyed some food and watched a turtle swim around.
The path was moderately busy and there were plenty of other cyclists riding, though none touring. I said hi to everyone. Eventually I pulled into Damascus and headed for a hostel I’d called ahead for, Crazy Larry’s. He said $40 for a room which is steep, but whatever, I’m already paying for another room in a different city 40 miles away. He was a character, but the ac isn’t working. That’s unfortunate because even now at 9:30 it’s hot. I headed to a restaurant, Trails Restaurant and got a pulled pork sandwich, salad, and a bunch of cokes. A were excellent. Banana pie for desert capped it off. I left feeling stuffed. I went to a bike shop and got a replacement rear light so that feels good. I relaxed and watched tv in the hostel and just tried to recuperate after the climbing I’ve been doing. At sunset I went for a walk for snacks and that felt really good, to stretch out my knees. Tomorrow I have the second to last major climb of the entire route and I can’t wait. It’ll be fun. I’m gonna rest, night!
- Kind bar
- Cliff bar
- Sweet tea
- Pulled pork sandwich
- Banana pie
- Ice cream